By Ashan Nanayakkara –
Mr. Shantha Jayawardene, Attoney-at-Law, friend of the writer had posted following remarks in his Facebook wall:
“If a criminal suspect (‘underworld’ or ‘top-world) goes to Supreme Court by way of a Fundamental Rights Application with notice to Attorney General and pleads that he might be killed whilst being under police custody and pending that case a news-website reports that he will be killed on a particular night, and then he actually gets killed that night whilst being under police custody, and then if you have to argue with lawyers whether extra-judicial killings are right or wrong, then its not a mere case of ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ failing, but a case of you living in a failed State.”
Are we in fact living in a failed State?
The writer leaves the aforesaid question for the reader to answer.
A born in late 1980s, at the height of the youth insurrection led by Janatha Vimukthi Perumuna (JVP), though not perceived first hand experiences, the writer has the sense of gruesome sentiments of loosing human lives and the feeling of them being martyred on the broad day light by State sponsored Army or vice versa. When the writer turned age of understanding, this country had experienced diabolical crimes by the name of war and most of which were against the humanity steered by the LTTE. Suicide bombs carried out by the terrorists at the Bank of Ceylon, at Galadari Hotel, at the Bandaranaike Airport, massacre of Aranthalawa Buddhist monks, bloodbath at Kattankudi mosque, were, some of the horrendous attacks in ingrained history. The assassination of Heads of States, such as, Rajiv Gandhi, Ranasinghe Premadasa were the highlights in the history of this nation to prove how much this country perceived the killings at the wrath of terrorism which was fantasized by Velupillai Prabakaran. Prabakaran is a cold-blooded murderer so as Hitler. The Sri Lankan Army too may have bloodshed on their hands during this war. That was the cost of war. Thus, killings or extra-judicial killings were not surprise to the damned citizen of this country till 2009.
Whereas, once the Prabakaran was sent to his rightful place, at the final battle at Nandikadal, a gang of goons that includes dynasty of Rajapaksas, high-ranking officers of the Government, some heads of military took control of this beautiful nation denying her prosperity.
Evaporating the hopes of peace and progress that could be followed by such an everlasting ending of war, as it happened in Poland, Austria, Germany, Japan etc. just like after World War II, the aforesaid group of leaches called fake Sinhalese chauvinist started to suck the life blood of this country marketing the war triumphant. Classic example is Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera. This loose cannon (the reason to use this word is, none of the decision taken by this gentleman, in this government, has been materialized thus far) lobbied against LTTE at Jeneva in some microscopic-ultra-small, 2 or 3 participants’ side sessions and hammered some jobless LTTE supporters and made sure to telecast those heroic works in Sri Lanka for millions of viewers. Hence, quickly became more popular among Sinhalese xenophobes and that paved the way for his ultimate goal of entering into Parliament and enjoy state sponsored perks and benefits for life time.
Until 2009, for Sinhala speaking masses it was only the Prabakaran is the greatest enemy and the opportunist in the history; but now, it is that bogus Sinhalese supremacists.
The current head of state pledged to protect this nation in front of the mecca of the Buddhists – at scared Sri Maha Bodiya and Ruwanweli Seya. The each and single word the latter uttered was stark opposite what he did afterwards. One should not select such a hallowed place to vomit a plethora of lies if he cannot make them reality. This cardinal sin was committed within the citadel of King – ‘Dutugemunu’, made a boomerang on the President, and ever since, this country came most appalling cropper. Since the day of assuming duties, Sri Lankans saw deception, more deception and more and more deception by this hypocrite president. He who sworn to protect the Buddhism, who acclaimed the Sinhalese majority votes, back stabbed those who voted for him. It is pity that 69-Lakhs of people in this country sought solace from greedy set of capitalists who showcased religious colures but inside had only monetary interests.
The promises of bringing the culprits of Easter Attack to books, scrutinizing Islamist Extremism and the teaching of the Muslims in the closed-doors, punishing Dr. Shafi Sahabdeen who made Sinhalese mothers infertile, finding ‘wande-kotthu’ (Sri Lankan food prepared at fast food restaurants, to which, it was alleged that infertile-pills were added at Muslim restaurants) extraditing former Central Bank Governor – Arjuna Mahendran, upholding the national security, digitalizing the government sector, uplifting the welfare of the retired Army soldiers, crowning the expatriates who fetch foreign currency to Sri Lanka, re-gaining the previous-government sold properties, practicing zero nepotism were all failed and collapsed down before our inward eyes. Such a betrayal. Et tu Gotabaya! The holler of 69-Lakhs of people.
Commencing by appointing one time branded wrongdoer by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, P. B. Jayasundera as the Secretary to the President, he who came to end the corruption gave a clear indication that eradication of corruption is no more his ethos. (vide: “…the 8th respondent-petitioner tenders an unreserved apology to Court for having continued functioning after the judgment of this Court. At that stage the Court had made order thus: “Hence the 8th respondent is given time to file appropriate affidavit in which he may consider including the said expression of regret and a firm statement that he would not hold any office in any governmental institution either directly or indirectly or purport to exercise in any manner executive or administrative functions. Further affidavit to be filed as early possible. Mention for a final order on the matter on 20.10.2008”(emphasis added). In the said affidavit dated 16.10.2008, the 8th respondent-petitioner had averred that he does not hold any office under the Republic of in any establishment in which the Government of Sri Lanka has an interest purporting to represent the Government of Sri Lanka and that he will not hold office in any Governmental institutions either directly or indirectly or purport to exercise in any manner executive and administrative functions…” – SC FR 209/07 decided on 13-010-2010)
Albeit, in fairness to, Lalith Weeratunga and Anusha Pelpita, allegations over giving away ‘Sil redi’ (white cloths which use to observe Sil by Buddhist laymen in full moon Poya days) were duly exonerated after invoking an Appeal at the Court of Appeal. Without any reservation, that Judgment was a wonderful piece of writing. The writer does not have scintilla of doubt on the finding of the Hon. Kumuduni Wickramasinghe and Hon. Devika Abyerathne (in CA 413-414/2017 decided on 19-11-2020); but the good faith of duo Lalith Weeratunga and Anusha Pelpita is best known to them and them alone.
Then comes the ‘Sugar Scam’. This financial embezzlement made a loss of about 15.9 Million Rupees of Tax revenue to Sri Lanka which is no second to Central Bank Bond scam. This atrocious government and its public servants who were handpicked by the head of state, had a carnival of pillaging and plundering best of mother Lanka. If one traces who is behind in any such swindling of money, after this government came, it is quite amusing to see that “Viyathmaga” (“Path shown by intellectuals”) member may be at the end of the loop. One such infamous man is, Mr. Nushad Perera. This man was immensely lucky to be appointed as the Chairman of Sri Lanka Standard Institute (SLSI) having found that he is the main culprit of Sugar Scam. That is the beauty of Rajapakse government; if someone found to be a reputed rogue that person will be rewarded with a more prestigious destination than he was before. The Sugar scam mentioned was devised by this nice looking gentleman – Nushad Perera whilst he was the Chairman of the Co-operative Wholesale Establishment (CWE) followed by an extraordinary Gazette published by Prime Minister under section 2 of the Special Commodity Levy Act No. 48 of 2007. Hence, It is not rocket science to find who ate the canary.
Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (CBK) had her own inner-circle, to wit, Mano Thittwella, Tara de Mel, Anuruddha Ratwatte. We remember under ‘Yahapanaya’ time, it was, Ranil Wickremesinghe, Arjuna Mahendran, Malik Samarawickrama, Akila Viraj Kariywasam, Sagala Ratnayake were the persons who had that omnipotent power. Nothing in different, this government too have, one Media Head who owns one of the oldest Tea Agencies, the head of Army, a merchant who is alleged to have run a floating armoury of weapons, an international (Russian kind) dealer who alleged to have played role in MiG deal, one and only Minister with silk. These are the primus inter pares of this government and without their knowledge, a crow won’t fly over the garden of government! Having said so, It is not for sure that Economics pundit, Ajith Nivard Cabraal is within this clan. But, if he is in, as saying goes, that “birds of a feather flock together’.
Since, 2009, Sri Lanka has not advanced one step ahead except the bank accounts of few set of politicians and selected group of its public servants.
Except, Bond Scam which was instrumental in Ranil Wickremesnghe’s time, Rajapaksa list goes as far back as, Tsunami Rip-off, war time MiG deal, Nishshanka Senadipathi’s Avant Garde Case, utilizing public money to erect a Museum for their parents, etc. etc. How much they have robed from these innocent people is a mystery that would never be unveiled.
Vis-à-vis, the writer has no complete refutation of all Rajapaksas; there would have been some Rajapaksas down the history, who might have lived and learnt what is meant by justice and injustice, what is virtues and what is not.
Let the writer, sidetracks by narrating the following anecdote which had taught a lesson to late Mr. D. M. Rajapaksa.
It is not unfair to call this tale as Rjapaksa v De Mel encounter. This incident lighted in 1916. At that time, the custom of the Richmond College Galle was to choose the captain of the cricket team from the votes of the students. At this point of time, the most qualified player of the cricket team was previous-year former captain – D. M. Rajapaksa. He is the paternal uncle of the present President and the Prime Minister. On the other side, R. A. De Mel was also eying to the captaincy of the cricket team. This De Mel family was one of the wealthiest families in the country. In R. A. De Mel’s life time, he twice became the Mayor of Colombo. In 1947 he was elected to the Parliament under United National Party from Colombo District. De Mel was also a prolific cricketer but these achievements could not beat the talents of D. M. Rajapaksa. Having been born with silver spoon in mouth, De Mel had the luxury of throw money for his campaign to become the captain of the cricket team of the college. Mel bribed abundance of snacks and drinks to fellow schools mates to collect more and more votes. Soon he became more popular among the student community. However, this was very much unsportsmanlike campaign. At the election, De Mel had a landslide victory over Rajapaksa where Rajapaksa was the most suitable for that post if it was based on merits.
The winner was pronounced by Fr. Small at the school assembly with couple of other astonishing announcements which were never expected by the students. Rev. Father addressed the students and declared the winner – it was no surprise, R. A. De. Mel. Then, making crowd awestruck, he said, “tomorrow onwards, Rajapaksea will not be a student of Richmond anymore, and he will be transferred to Wesley College Colombo.” It was a climactic moment. The most startling decision was, the Rev. Father ventured to say that, “in this year, Richmond College will not go for any cricket match!” Fr. Small had the first hand proofs how the pre-election campaign was taken place. He knew what corruptive means and methods were used by the Mel’s side to clinch the post of captaincy. Mel became the captain not because of he is the most suitable player but he had the money to burn. Hence, at that historical assembly, Fr. Small reprimanded his students by saying that “It is a painful step to take, but I believe that good will come out of evil. If we of Richmond College learn the lesson that there are matters more important than games, and with the object of making ourselves thoroughly efficient educationally, and above all if we learn to shun the person of party spirit and faction, these lessons will have been well worth learning at any price.” Most fascinating factor in this story is, Mel was a Christian and Rajapaksa was a Buddhist. In this background, Fr. Small had ample chances to show some soft corner to De Mel as he is from his own religion. But, Rev. Fr. Small did not ready to tolerate the injustice that succumbed by the Buddhist Rajapaksa. To do the justice to Rajapaksa, the principle sent Rajapaksa to Wesley College with immediate effect. By banning the cricket team to take part in any matches in that year, the Principle of Richmond college wanted to teach a lesson not only to one who was elected to that post by deceitful methods but also to punish the students who voted De Mel by giving away to corruption. This is an act with full of integrity and honour. Perhaps due which the later on, in D. M. Rajapaksa’s life he was engulfed with leftist ideas along with Dr. S. A. Wickramasinghe, Dr. N. M. Perera, Philip Gunawardena and Leslie Goonewardene in the anti-imperialist and progressive movement. The same man, was elected a member of the Second State Council for the Hambantota District, and renowned as (“Ruhune Singhaya (Lion of South)”.
Having said so, what a crime to build monuments for gentlemen in the said caliber by pickpocketing tax-payers’ money. This was the upbringing of the ancestors of Rajapaksas they had. Current wretched generation, has fallen down to stooge from such a legacy.
Coming back to the loot, pilfering of public money, according to Rajitha Senaratne, this government does not stop from aforesaid cases, it goes to get under cut commissions from Rapid Antigen test kits which are imported to trace Covid patients, underhand deals bringing other medical equipment to Sri Lanka during this catastrophical time for the same prices even after the prices dropped down in the world market. List goes on. One cannot forget how this government and the closet set of friends of the head of the state earned money by imposing quarantine laws to make it compulsory to aboard at hotels for 14-days for the exuberant prices they nominate. Those who flown back to motherland losing their jobs, future hopes, and with heavy heart after seen their loved ones died were ransacked by this government like gang of marauders at the hotels owned by some members of the inner-circle. As such, some those who run those hotels and those involved in importing medical equipment to Sri Lanka were branded as “Corana wen goda giyapu un” (the opportunist who became rich through Corona).
The unprecedented haste shown by the Government to pass the Port City Bill too has raised eyebrows in lot of segments of the society. This too, the current regime forward marched against the will of Mahasanga and Buddhist leaders. What made Rajapaksas to completely aloof the very group of Buddhist priests who camped the masses to vote for Rajapaksas? Perhaps, for the betterment of the country; or in terms of the words of some back benches of this government say, Port City is the last resort of this country to become a first world country. Let’s assume that what they say is correct. Yet, why so much interest. The government of the day or rather, the Secretary to the President went on to the extent to state in the Supreme Court, when the Port City Bill was debated, “even the chief justice of Sri Lanka can be a pony-tailed Chinese guy (konde bendapu cheenek)”. Sacrilege, where we wither to? Are we sacrificing the pride of a nation for a Chinese Kings’ ransom?
After all, do not forget that New York Times revealed a $7.6-million money transfer from a Chinese firm to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to his 2015 presidential election, writer quips.
Latest revelation according to Duminda Nagamuwa, Frontline Socialist Party member, that this government had imported an Ambulance worth of 19-Million Rupees which should have bought in fact for about 80-Million or maximums 130-Million Rupees. Misappropriated money has come from the Covid-19 fund which was accrued to that level from the savings of hardworking innocent masses of this country. Duminda further states that this government has spent 64-Million of Rupees for Covid-19 awareness programs from the said fund. How come such a colossal amount of money can be spent for a bloody publicity!
More than the swindling of money, the writer has the first hand documents on how the Chairman of JEDB, one Retired Wing-Commander tried to make pullout of some Planters in some high-yielding Tea Estate eying on robbing the business of private sector, using Police of the area, whilst the said Planters possess 50-years of Lease Agreements. It is famous in the Kotagala-Hatton area, now, that Sri Lanka Army is trying to forcibly acquire Colombo Commercial Company Property from its rightful lessees disregarding a Commercial High Court order. Can one believe that these officers who have the audacity to enter into a private business place in sham pretext of opening a temporary corona-centre and afterwards remove the banner hung on the land on which depicts the ‘Writ of Execution Order given by the Courts” and burn it to permanently settle in that private business place? Thanks to sane and upright men in the judiciary, the said Army personnel were temporarily prevented from continuing the said extra-judicial land grabbing. The grapevine says that some of such lands they encroached for the purpose of sharing among local politicians to please them. Where does this country go, writer cannot fathom.
Right thinking men are vociferous over extra-judicial killings on this Buddhist land. No one knows how the regime of this day has embarked on systematic plan to robe private owned properties extra-judicially. This has become the norm of the day. Those who cannot afford to go to courts may give in. Poor will bite the dust. What a sad state of affairs! Will foreign investors (except Chinese) come to such a country where their private business places are insecure by the incumbent government?
Writer concludes recalling Eddy Grant’s song of ‘Gimme me hope…” which has some fantastic way of expressing how does a corrupt country could be ruled by the iron fist. The lyrics of this song sum up the present context of affairs in this country too. That is:
“…She’s got supporters in high up places
Who turn their heads to the city sun
Jo’anna give them the fancy money
Oh to tempt anyone who’d come
She even knows how to swing opinion
In every magazine and the journals
For every bad move that this Jo’anna makes
They got a good explanation…”
The reader could decide whether Sri Lanka is a failed state or not!